Last week the Government announced they would introduce Firearm Prohibition Orders as a tool for police to get guns out of the hands of gangs and criminals.
This announcement comes after a rise in gang-related violence and gang membership continuing to explode in NZ.
Firearm Prohibition Orders were first proposed by National in 2017 and are key to tackling this growing violence. I am pleased the Government is finally waking up to the need to do something about this issue.
As is often the case with Labour Government announcements however, there is important detail missing about their proposal.
One of the key safety nets in National’s policy was the inclusion of search powers that would allow the police to search anyone with an FPO to their name to check they were complying with the law.
These search powers are backed by the Police Association as without them, FPOs become far less effective and mean police are left with few tools available to enforce them.
Another concern with the Government’s proposal is that FPOs will only be issued by court order in response to serious crime, rather than as proactive solutions to prevent harm in the first place. We know criminals have guns. We shouldn’t be waiting for them to use them before doing something about it.
While it’s encouraging to see Labour finally taking steps to address this issue, it’s hard not to wonder why they haven’t done anything before. They have twice voted down similar proposals from National and, in fact, could have simply made changes to my existing Members Bill currently before the Justice Select Committee as a way to get FPOs out there sooner.
Violent crime is getting out of control under this Government. If they were serious about tackling crime and getting serious offenders off our streets, they would have worked with National when we first suggested this and FPOs would already be in effect.
Still, I’m pleased that something is finally happening on this issue and urge the Government to bring their legislation to Parliament sooner rather than later.
- Simeon Brown
MP for Pakuranga